Save the Date May 19-20! Head to Ayden for the Best ENC Barbecue and a Great Book Event

There are big doings May 19-20. Sometimes the stars align, everything falls into place, and you hit the lottery. This is one of those times. It’s a stellar book event in Ayden, North Carolina, the epicenter of great Eastern North Carolina barbecue. And it has an all-star cast. You know barbecue masters Sam Jones of Skylight Inn

Joneses and Sam Jones Barbecue in Winterville and Raleigh. And you know Matt Register of Southern Smoke down in Garland. That’s a heckuva start on the Ten Best in Eastern North Carolina.

They both have very readable books out, as does the Godfather, John Shelton Reed, Scott Griffin’s favorite professor at Chapel Hill and a distinguished — I mean an actually distinguished scholar who, despite being a scholar, has a wonderful sense of humor. I’ve reviewed his latest book, On Barbecue, here, and I recently finished Kicking Back, an absolutely hilarious collection of essays about barbecue and the distinct peculiarities of Southerners and those of our Northern friends. This will be a great event. And the Facilitator, Sarah Bowen, is a professor at NC State (it’s an ecumenical event) who’s written a book that can help you take the others’ lessons to your home kitchen/grill with you.

As if that weren’t enough, Ayden is home to not only the Skylight Inn, but also the magnificent Bum’s Restaurant, and it’s just a short drive from glorious B’s and Sam Jones/Winterville. That’s a rich, full life right there. I suggest you eat at Southern Smoke on Thursday, then head up to Greenville for the night and have breakfast at Bum’s, lunch #1 at B’s (don’t forget the chicken), lunch #2 at Bum’s, and an early dinner at Sam Jones. And maybe a quick beer after the event at Sam Jones.

Saturday morning, you have a tough choice. You can stay in Ayden, have breakfast at Bum’s and then spend the day in Ayden at the 2023 Kings of Q BBQ Cook-Off and Festival, named after local Kings of Q, Pete Jones, Sam’s father and the founder of the Skylight Inn, and Latham” Bum” Dennis, two giants by any measure. You can look over details of last year’s Festival here, and follow this year’s details here as they develop.

The other opportunity is to stop for breakfast at Bum’s or Flo’s down in Wilson, then go to the Wings Over Wayne (County) airshow in Goldsboro that will feature the Blue Angels, and enjoy truly wonderful lunches at Wilber’s

and Grady’s. Or you may be able to do it all, since the airshow extends into Sunday, May 21st.

Here’s the invitation with book event with details. I hope to see you there.

We appreciate your participation in the Ayden Kings of Q – Book Panel and Signing Event.  Please feel free to forward this invitation to those you would like to attend the event.  A link for interested folks to RSVP is included below.

Sam Jones, Skylight Inn and Sam Jones BBQ proprietor, Ayden Hometown business, famous pitmaster and restaurateur.

Matt Register, Southern Smoke BBQ of NC, located in Garland, Southern Smoke BBQ of NC has become a must stop for those who travel Eastern NC.

John Shelton Reed, He wrote THE book on NC BBQ, Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue.

Sarah Bowen, Fulbright Scholar, Professor of Sociology and author of Pressure Cooker: Why Home Cooking Won’t Solve Our Problems and What We Can Do About It.

May 19, 2023, 6 to 8 p.m. Ayden Community Center
548 Second St, Ayden, NC 28513 

RSVP at:


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